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Pharmacy practice

Perception of pharmacists as prescription checkers is a 'scandal': RPS English Pharmacy Board chair

Pharmacists are expensively trained healthcare professionals with five years’ education who can do much more than just check prescriptions, Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English Pharmacy Board told a major health conference.

Speaking at the UK Health Show on 27 September 2017, Gidley said the fact that pharmacists were not being used to the best advantage was one of the “scandals” needing to be addressed in the health service at the moment.

“The reason why people should be thinking how pharmacists can contribute is that we don’t have a workforce crisis — entrants to schools of pharmacy have not been reduced over the years — there is a workforce there who are willing and able,” she told delegates during the pharmacy section of a discussion on how allied health professionals, pharmacists and nurses can release the strain on primary care.

As well as talking about the new and emerging roles for pharmacists in GP practices and urgent and emergency settings, Gidley also touched on the lack of pharmacy involvement in Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs). She said that all too often organisations get used to doing things the same way and despite new systems being designed new people are rarely invited to be involved.

“Everything is about STPs at the moment, but one of the problems is that it is always the same people trying to come up with new solutions and new ways forward … it’s difficult when not everyone is involved and feels part of it,” she said.

Gidley told the conference that a wider group of people needed to be involved with redesigning services, adding that following a recent meeting with pharmacy minister, Steve Brine, she felt hopeful that these concerns had been taken on board.

“He took [our comments] away and really appreciated what we were saying and said he would think about it — I will wait and see and give him the benefit of the doubt,” she said.

Gidley added that it was unfair that politicians expected healthcare professionals to paper over cracks in the health service when they did not have the resources they needed, such as read and write access to patient records.

“There is an amount of political cowardice here — politicians do not want a public debate about what the public could and should pay for and what they could and should expect,” she said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203651

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